Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) Programs

Connect with Live Animals Online


Experience animals like never before with Sunset Zoo's Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) Programs. Targeted at elementary-school-aged youth, these online programs lead participants through an interactive exploration of animals. Ideal for classes and groups looking to enhance their learning; programs are offered on-demand and must be scheduled in advance.

Sunset Zoo IDL programs may be scheduled Monday through Friday; programming offered in English only. Animal availability is dependent on current care and feeding needs. Any group connecting with the Zoo for the first time will need to set up a time to test connection at least 48 hours before scheduled program.

Current Offerings


Close Encounters of the Wild Kind - 20-30 minute program | $35 per program
Close Encounters programs bring groups together with a live animal to explore body structure, the functions of specific structures, or to help drive understanding of animal diversity. Each program is individualized based on participation through question answering.  Sunset Zoo staff are trained to engage audience through questions to help each participant further develop their observation skills and science understanding.  The questioning also challenges participants to construct explanations so they can make sense of what they are experiencing.  Thus, each program forms in front of the group and takes shape based on the background knowledge each group brings to the program.

Each program focuses on one live animal.  A the time of booking, groups can choose from one of the following:

Close Encounter Animals  
 Ancona Duck Ball Python
Barred Tiger Salamander Bearded Dragon
Ornate Box Turtle Domestic Ferret
Hissing Cockroach Indian Star Tortoise
Eastern Screech Owl Speckled King Snake
Sulcata Tortoise Three-banded Armadillo
Virginia Opossum  


Additional Information


Booking a Sunset Zoo IDL Program

Are you with a school district? Check to see if your District is part of the Center for Interactive Learning & Collaboration. Request your program through the CILC website. If you are not part of the CILC network, contact the Zoo.

IDL Programs & Technology Requirements

IDL programs provide an enhanced educational experience via the worldwide web delivered through video conferencing equipment. Unlike watching a video online, audience members can interact in real-time with the presenter creating a rich learning environment similar to an in-person classroom experience. Sunset Zoo can connect with audience using two different methods:
  • an enterprise system deploying H.323 technology, like that used for Polycom, Tandberg, or Lifesize video conferencing systems.  Sunset Zoo will provide an IP address upon booking a program to use for connecting.
  • Zoom, a web-based video conferencing solution.  This allows Sunset Zoo to connect to any group/person with a webcam.  For booking/scheduling a Zoom connection, Sunset Zoo will email you a link for the connection once confirmed.  Zoom operates in the background allowing most computers and other devices to bypass most firewall systems.
Sunset Zoo IDL programs may only be delivered to a location that has reliable access to an internet connection. For educators, talk to your school district's IT department to determine capability. Homeschool group or civic organization? Check with your local library to see if they have IDL or video conferencing capability, or connect with us on your computer, tablet, or smart phone through Zoom.